While I don't have the exact quote on me, after some online searching, this about sums up the theme to the assignment:
Birth, and copulation, and death.
That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks.
Many of the other students took this literally, and illustrated scenes of sex, death, etc etc.
I decided to take a more philosophical position on the quote, believing that Eliot spoke not of these acts (life, sex, and death) as important, individual ideas in his meaning, but as the overall cycle of the human condition.
In the end, what inspired me (like always, it seems) was religious imagery of prophets transcending the human condition into the plane beyond just birth, sex, and death. Specifically where the images of Jacob's ladder, Mohammad flying to heaven, and the shamanic idea of out of body experiences when you cross this plane.
In total we had to do six images, but this glass was both the only 3D structure I painted on in the series and the only image that illustrated this theme strongly.
I am thinking of digging out the sketches and redoing this idea as a 2D image, possibly in acrylics instead of gouache. It will we a fun exercise, if anything.